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Fitness, Train body and mind — February 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Tips to Help You Stay in Shape While Living in a College Dorm

A dorm room at the Harvard Law School.
A dorm room at the Harvard Law School. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many students spend some time living in the dorms during their tenure in college simply because they provide a safe, affordable, and convenient residence for students new to the area. Once you’ve found your way around and made a few friends you might think about renting a shared apartment or house, but dorms offer you the opportunity to meet other students like yourself who are far from home and virtually friendless, making them a great living situation for your first year or two of school. Sadly, you may also have heard of the freshman fifteen, and life in the dorms can contribute to this phenomenon significantly. With all of your possessions crammed into a space the size of a shoe box you’ll have limited options if you prefer to exercise in private. And with no kitchen to speak of you’re at the mercy of the campus cafeteria (and their restricted hours) for food, which could mean a lot of trips to the vending machines.

The long and short of it is that many students neglect their health and fitness during their time in the dorms simply because the lifestyle limits their options. Luckily, there are still ways to engage in exercise and appropriate eating habits while you live in the dorms if you’re willing to make a few compromises on behalf of your health. Let’s begin with your diet since you’ll surely want to eat on a regular basis. For starters, it’s important that you don’t skip meals. This might sound antithetical, but the truth is that skipping meals makes you hungrier, and it can mess with your metabolism, your energy levels, and even your emotions.

When you fail to fuel your body as needed you’ll end up making bad choices when it comes to the foods you do eat. So set alarms to remind yourself to eat if you need to, keep healthy snacks in your backpack (fruits, veggies, and low-fat cheese sticks are a few good options), and try to consume lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats when possible, avoiding the high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods that are in abundance in dorms.

Next you’ll want to focus on exercise, and this can be a difficult undertaking for students living in the dorms. If you were completing an online program from GetaRealDegree.com and living at home you wouldn’t have the same issues, but since you’re dealing with limited space you’ll have to be flexible if you want to stay in shape. Sprinting across campus to classes is a good start, but you’ll need to go the extra mile (literally) if you want to stay fit. And you should try to get a little help from your friends and dorm-mates.

Consider starting a running club or getting people together in the common room for a round of kick-boxing, Zumba, Pilates, or yoga. Or if there are gym facilities on campus that are open to students, drop in as your schedule permits to use machinery and weights. You could even set up ultimate Frisbee or soccer games in the quad on the weekends. When you exercise with friends you’ll have more fun and it could help you stick to a fitness plan.

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